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Independent’s US correspondent arrested at BLM protest

The Independent last week published the extraordinary account of Andrew Buncombe, its Chief US Correspondent, who was arrested whilst reporting on the Seattle protests.

Independent’s US correspondent arrested at BLM protest
Christian Broughton: “When the phone rings to tell you a reporter has been arrested, you don’t imagine that the correspondent in question would be in the United States.” Photograph: Seattle protests, from May this year. Max Anderson on Unsplash.

His experiences gave him first-hand experience of a troubling criminal justice system, says the Independent, and shone a light on the treatment of journalists in the US, despite the protections of the First Amendment.

The article details:

  • Andrew was charged with “failure to disperse”; the charge has still not been dropped, a week later
  • He had not crossed police lines
  • He identified himself repeatedly as a journalist
  • He was arrested, cuffed, put in leg irons, jailed for six hours
  • His cell was cramped, with breaches of Covid-19 measures
  • He was assaulted by a guard, who grabbed his collar and manhandled him into a cell for no good reason

Andrew has been at The Independent for 19 years. He was Washington Correspondent 2001-2007, Asia Correspondent 2007-2014 (in Delhi), US Digital Editor (2015-2016), US Editor (2015-2019) and has been Chief US Correspondent (in Seattle) since 2019.

In 2011 he won the Amnesty International Award for a report on the Indian hunger striker Irom Sharmila.

He has covered revolutions, elections, 9/11, and the capture of Osama bin Laden, reporting around the world. This is the first time he has been arrested, says The Independent.

Christian Broughton, editor of The Independent, comments: “As a global news organisation, we have some journalists based permanently in countries with poor records for press freedom, and we frequently send reporters into conflict zones and dangerous situations. But when the phone rings to tell you a reporter has been arrested, you don’t imagine that the correspondent in question would be in the United States. Andy is an experienced and highly respected reporter. As he writes in his article, the job of a journalist is not to disperse. Our job is to be present.”